Reaching down, I pulled the needle out, crying out loudly as it ripped my flesh and a stream of blood trickled down my arm.

“No! Fuck! Wait. Calm down. It’s… it’s okay.” The man attempted to soothe me with his deep voice.

I did not recognize him from commune, but he was a disciple, I had no doubt. This meant I had to leave. I realized Gabriel must have tracked me down after all. This man was my captor. I was about to be punished.

Scanning the room, I spotted a door behind me to my left. An exit. The man moved forward two steps, his words slower and clearer this time.

“Please. I won’t hurt you.”

I cocked my head to the side. He was being kind, even gentle, but I knew it must be a trick, an evil ruse. He raked his hand through his hair and rolled up the sleeves of his black shirt, large, bulging forearms on display.

I stumbled back, hitting the hard wall. His arms. His arms carried the picture of the devil. I stared. I could not stop staring as my body seized in fear. He looked down to see what had me so scared.

His bright-brown eyes widened as they focused back on me. “No, f**k! It’s not what you think. Don’t be scared of me.”

A lifelong teaching set off an alarm in my mind: Evil is stalking. Evil will catch you. Evil will destroy your very soul.

Attempting to reach the door, my feet were sluggish. Too tired to function, my leg felt as if it were on fire. Somehow I kept going, taking advantage of the fact that he was on the other side of the large bed.

“No! Wait! Ah, shit!”

I did not. I continued forward. Gripping the handle, I pushed through on unsure feet, slamming the door behind me. The winding path of a dark, narrow corridor became my guide and I continued down a set of stairs, using the wall to keep me upright.

I could hear people at the end of the corridor and I glanced over my shoulder just as the man burst through the bedroom door, yelling at me to stop. His whole frame appeared to fill the hallway. His face was intent and he was scaring me now. The way he stalked me unsettled my nerves.

I tried to run even harder, but my injured calf protested with each step I made.

A large steel door separated me from voices of people—people who could perhaps help, or maybe not. I did not know, but it was my only choice. I pressed down on the long handle with all my strength, bursting through, falling to the floor. My legs had finally given out, my vision hazing, and an intense dizziness took hold.

I slowly looked up, the room seeming to tilt on its side. Many pairs of eyes focused on me sitting dead center of the room and people began circling around me. Lots of people. Strange people. Frightening people. It looked as though they were swirling around. I wanted to cry.

I fought back a sob. Maybe the teachings were right. Maybe I was in hell after all.

The walls of the large room were mostly black, though adorned with picture after picture of Satan in hell—infernos, blood, demons, evil beasts, and dark rivers swarming with lost souls. My hand muffled a scream as I realized Prophet David had been right; outside of The Order was evil. I had been protected yet escaped.

I surveyed the immediate area, my dizziness ebbing a fraction. Loose women wearing scant clothes dominated the room. Rough, unkempt long-haired men wearing leather touched them in very intimate places and the women clearly invited such provocative actions. Even as they looked at me, amusement flickered in their eyes as they cowed me with their stares. Men and women alike were smirking at me, some seemingly in kindness, others in blatant lust.

A deadly sin.

The door behind me crashed into the wall and I froze—the passive deer surrounded by a pack of lions. Chills ran through me as I felt the man from the bedroom approach.

I flinched at a loud screech. A chair scraped slowly on the wooden floor, the noise flowing around and through the crowd. Many heads turned toward the source.

“Baby, where are you going?” I heard a soft female voice ask from across the room. The crowd parted but no answer greeted her question.

Tightly holding my breath, I waited for who would be revealed. Then a tall, hugely built man broke through the wall of people, walking straight toward me. His hard gaze locked on mine and I could not divert my attention away from his large, hazel eyes, rough, unshaven cheeks, and dark messy hair as he towered over my slumped form. I dared not even breathe.

Though he looked like Satan himself, he was quite simply the most beautiful man I had ever seen: ruggedly handsome and the most commanding man I had ever encountered.

Shuffling back a few steps, I hit the legs of the man from the bedroom. Kneeling down, he steadied me by placing his hands on my arms. But the man with hazel eyes kept closing in, only stopping when he was two feet away.

Crouching down, he gazed at every part of my face, his nostrils flaring as he drew in long breaths. His lips parted slightly as he exhaled and behind him, someone coughed. Distracted, his eyes darted to the side and away from my stare. I placed a palm over my pounding head. It was all too much and I could not focus. My heart slammed in my chest and pure fear seized control of my body. I willed myself to stop trembling; this only seemed to fuel my anxiety further.

At the snap of his fingers, someone moved closer and I started. The man with the large hazel eyes began waving his hands around in controlled yet unfamiliar movements. Then someone ordered, “Go to him.”

What? What was happening?

Stretching my head up to follow the voice, I saw a man with long blond hair to his shoulders stepping forward. “Calm yourself. You’re safe,” he assured me gently. He had kind eyes and was very handsome. But so is the devil, I reminded myself.